Fall 2013

Boundaries of Belonging:  Law and Citizenship

Listed in: Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought, as LJST-223


Clara J. Altman (Section 01)


How has law structured who belongs and who is foreign to the United States? In this class, we will take a broad historical look at the law of citizenship to answer this question.  Beginning with the founding of the nation, we will consider the various ways that law has defined the fundamental privileges and obligations of national belonging, and then policed the boundaries between those entitled to the privileges of citizenship and those denied them. We will discuss how legal concepts of social and political belonging rooted in ideas about self-ownership changed over time to the twentieth century civil rights paradigm; how certain groups have been excluded from the full benefits of citizenship on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and political and territorial status; how individuals have used the courts to challenge those exclusions and claim citizenship rights; and how the legal rules and procedures that determine who can be admitted to the country and who cannot reflect evolving state preferences and fears of foreignness. Students will read U.S. Supreme Court cases including Dred Scott v. Sandford, Brown v. Board of Education, Lawrence v. Texas, and Hamdi v. Rumsfeld with works of history, law, and political science. Readings include Barbara Welke’s Law and the Borders of Belonging in the Long Nineteenth Century, Mae Ngai’s Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America, Risa Goluboff’s The Lost Promise of Civil Rights, and David Cole’s Enemy Aliens: Double Standards and Constitutional Freedoms in the War on Terrorism. In addition to regular class attendance, reading, and discussion, students will complete several written assignments including short analytical essays, and an assignment in which they will rewrite a portion of a Supreme Court opinion.

Limited to 30 students.  Fall semester.  Visiting Professor Altman.

If Overenrolled: Priority would be given to LJST majors

Cost: 20.00 ?


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Fall 2014